If you are considering a dental implant procedure, you’ll know the process requires dental implant surgery to attach the screw-like post to the jaw. You may also know that once fully bonded, the implant becomes part of the mouth as a super-strong, stand-alone support for a dental crown or implant-supported bridge.
But despite an implant being designed to remain in the mouth for several decades or more, it’s most vulnerable in the immediate weeks or months after surgery before bone fusion occurs. Therefore you mustn’t do anything to compromise the process.
With this in mind, here are five essential things you should NOT do in the immediate weeks after dental implant surgery and why.
Keeping the mouth clean after surgery is essential, as 4 in every ten implant patients develop postoperative infections. In some cases, a course of antibiotics will clear up the disease, but in others, the only course of action is to remove the implant, wait for the infection to clear and start again.
While regular rinsing does indeed help the fight against bacteria, rinsing the mouth excessively or aggressively may disturb the clot formed around the site.
Clots are like a barrier. They protect the implant site while preventing excessive bleeding. So disturbing a clot can cause further bleeding and predispose the surgical area to bacterial infection.
Instead, for the first few days at least, gently swish a warm water/salt solution around your mouth and let the remaining residue flow into the sink. Avoid using anything harsh, like a strong mouthwash, for at least 14 days after dental implant surgery, but it’s okay to continue with gentle brushing.
Staying fit and healthy speeds up the healing process. However, strenuous activity increases blood flow which may, in turn, cause the surgical site to bleed, particularly in the first few days after oral surgery.
In addition, any increased activity can cause swelling, which may cause your newly-placed implants to move.
Therefore, it’s advisable to rest up and avoid strenuous exercise for at least 1- 2 weeks after implant surgery. After this point, it should be okay to ease yourself back into it. However, even simple activities like jogging (despite being a no-contact activity) can cause trauma to the site because of the constant pounding of your feet.
If you want to get back into jogging sooner rather than later, maybe start with a gentle jog of a limited distance. As your implants become more stable in the jaw, you should be able to increase your jogging distance, but it might be worth having a word with your implant dentist to get their professional opinion before doing so.
Alternatively, one of the best exercises for a newly-placed implant is swimming. Swimming is a gentle, low-impact sport that increases your heart rate and builds endurance without stressing the body.
Yoga is another gentle way to ease yourself into an exercise routine after dental implant surgery. It’s an ideal activity for improving flexibility and posture while helping with circulation.
What about contact sports?
Contact sports like football or hockey should be avoided until the implant fully fuses with the jaw. This procedure takes around 3-6 months to complete; even then, wearing a protective mouthguard is advisable.
Perhaps the best thing about an implant-based restoration is that it completes your smile and restores your full chewing ability, allowing you to eat whatever you like.
However, during the stabilization phase, be prepared to stick to a modified diet. One of the worst things you can do to a newly placed implant is to chow down on chewy or hard foods, so a softer diet of soups, scrambled eggs, yogurts and smoothies is best. You should also avoid spicy foods as these can irritate the tissues at the implant site, so initially, tacos are off the menu.
As implants heal, you can gradually introduce more foods like fish, pasta and vegetables into your diet. Still, hard or chewy foods must wait until your implant fully integrates with the bone.
If you’re unsure of what you should and shouldn’t eat after dental implant surgery, don’t worry; your dentist will give you an eating guide or plan to follow.
You can also check out this article on our site for further diet modification information.
You may assume a straw helps your mouth as it continues to heal, but drinking through a straw will harm newly-placed implants.
The suction can prematurely dislodge the blood clot which has formed over the implant site. As with aggressive rinsing, a dislodged blood clot can cause excessive bleeding and open the site to a bacterial infection. It can also cause a painful condition known as a dry socket.
Drinking water is advisable in the first few weeks after oral surgery, as staying hydrated is crucial. It’s also essential to avoid alcohol. Alcohol can interfere with postoperative medication.
The last and final activity you definitely shouldn’t be doing is smoking. We’re all aware that smoking harms our health, but did you know it can wreak havoc with healing implants?
Smoking affects implants in two ways.
Firstly, there are over one million bacteria found in one single gram of tobacco, so harmful bacteria contained within tobacco smoke can cause infection in and around the implant site.
Secondly, evidence suggests that smoking slows the bone healing process – an essential part of the dental implant procedure.
If you smoke, your dentist will advise you to quit at least until implant-to-bone fusion (osseointegration) occurs. While it might be challenging to kick the habit, stopping is essential for dental implant success.
So, there you have it - five essential things you should not do after dental implant surgery.
If you are considering an implant-based restoration and have any questions, talk to Dr. Akinwande and her team at Chesterfield Dentistry.
Book a consultation or call us at 314 -936-3621 and get your concerns answered.
Image by mdjaff on Freepik